Mobile apps can offer support for people at risk of suicide

According to a study, mobile apps could provide “an uninterrupted crisis response tool” for people with suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

A team of international researchers, including from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain, in a review of studies, said apps based on an approach called Momentary Ecological Intervention (EMI) can offer a useful tool for managing patients. at risk of suicide.

“These interventions may be useful adjuncts to traditional care, especially in situations where face-to-face care is not possible,” they wrote in the review published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

Suicide remains one of the leading causes of potential life lost worldwide, as suicide rates may increase during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Mobile health interventions offer a great opportunity to provide “low-cost, 24/7 support” to people at high risk of suicide, especially those who have had previous suicide attempts or thoughts. suicidal.

Momentary ecological interventions are a particularly promising approach, with the potential to provide immediate relief to patients who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

“For example, NDEs can enable patients to adopt coping strategies when experiencing a breakdown or to interact with the environment in different ways, such as contacting professionals or family members during a crisis,” said Enrique Baca-Garcia, of the University Hospital. Jimenez Diaz Foundation in Madrid.

The team identified 27 studies of 19 different IME interventions designed for suicide prevention.

Safety planning was the most common component of EMI interventions.

Some apps, including safety plans, have taken advantage of digital media – for example, showing photos of loved ones, videos with relaxation techniques, or maps showing the quickest route to disaster relief. emergency.

The researchers said that adolescents and young adults could benefit the most from new mental health technologies: they are comfortable with using digital technologies and are the age group most affected by the thoughts and suicidal behaviors.

However, the review suggests that there is “still a long way to go before (EMI interventions) can be systematically implemented in clinical practice,” Baca-Garca wrote.

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